Channel: The Productive Muslim Podcast
Sh Ismail is our guest today for the Productive Muslim Interview, whereby we speak to individuals from all walks of life, get an insight into their productivity and take away lessons we can implement.
In this episode, we speak about:
– How to discover your interest and use it to benefit the Ummah.
– The significance of homeschooling children.
– Keeping yourself motivated to be productive and scheduling lazy days.
– How to manage stress and deal with a difficult day.
– How early marriage leads to productivity.
– The importance of making time for self, family, and worship.
Interviewed on March 3, 2017.
© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.
You're listening to the productive Muslim podcast, season one, Episode Five AsSalamu Alaikum and welcome to the productive Muslim podcast, the weekly podcast where we help you live a productive lifestyle so that you can be successful in this life.
Assalamu alaikum productive Muslims. Welcome to the podcast. I'm your host me form Arif and today I have for you another interview with a productive Muslim. Now if you're new to these interviews, these interviews are ones in which we speak to amazing individuals from all walks of life, we get an insight into their productivity and takeaway lessons we can implement. And joining me on the show today from Durban South Africa, is our guest shake his smile calendar. He's a senior lecturer and faculty member of the Islamic Open University, the founder of Islamic self help and a radio present up. He's also a homeschooling father of four children has authored over six titles in the area of
Islam, personal development, and homeschooling with his first book published at the age of 23. So Mashallah many amazing things that our guest today has accomplished, and is continuing to accomplish. So, I hope you enjoy this interview, we check your smell.
This show is sponsored by the productive Muslim Academy, an online platform built for serious and committed individuals like yourself who want to improve themselves. I'm a member myself and I must say this place is a goldmine of knowledge with unlimited access to personal development courses by experts. And the best thing about it is that it's all faith based meaning it combines between religious teachings and the best of modern personal development. It also contains access to a private Facebook group where you can network with like minded individuals, a book club to encourage you to read regularly, exclusive webinars and more. Plus, there's a 30 day money back guarantee. So
that means if you don't like it, you can request a refund, no questions asked. So give it a try by heading over to productive Muslim academy.com and take your life to another level.
Assalamu alaikum shaky smile Welcome to the show. When it comes to l'amour rahmatullahi wa barakatuh Jazakallah fate for having me. I'm a very big fan of productive Muslim. In fact, it's one of the inspirations behind my own website. So it's a real honor to be here. Thank you so much for having me. Well, Mashallah. First thing I wanted to put forward to you is like, Can you just tell us about yourself and what you do? Okay, very briefly, I am the faculty manager of the Islamic online university. I'm the founder of Islamic self help.com. I'm a radio presenter, I have a weekly radio program called Living Islam on regular Sir, I'm a diary. I do Tao by locality, and internationally.
I homeschool my kids and I'm a blogger, I also write for magazines. So I think that kind of sums it all up. Yeah. All right. So you start off with doing Islamic sciences and working in the area. Now you're also writing in area of South helping along with the other things that you're doing. So I'm curious to know, was this always something you wanted to do? Or was there a point in your life that you decided to do this? Well, this is kind of like an evolution in my life. You know, I started off, you know, studying Islamic Studies became an Islamic Studies teacher. But in 2011, I got promoted to this management position, and I really had no clue about management.
My only area of knowledge was Islamic Studies. And so I started reading books, reading books, like the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, How to Win Friends and Influence People in all these kinds of books. And I really got into it, you know, I really started to enjoy the books and enjoy the podcasts and the videos. And they began to transform me upon myself being able to do so much more than I ever thought I was capable of doing. And this went on I began to realize there's a lack of Islamic products in this area. And I saw a niche a market that wasn't being catered to. And from there slowly the ideas developed first the idea for the time management book, then the self
confidence book, then the website itself and it just grew one idea after the other so it wasn't something I planned. If you were to ask me 10 years ago, I probably hadn't even heard about self help or personal development. Yeah, I usually do this for myself to develop myself to grow myself and I just grew to love this field so much I wanted to share it with others and Islam is it and that's where the idea group hmm All right. So it sounds like you heard about this field and then you you just develop your interest in it and then you move more towards that area. I've also heard about other people saying how they have multiple interests and they don't know like which one to go more
interest. So how did you know that you want to do more in this area? Well, for me, the The reason I went into this area was not just because it's what I wanted to do, but because
They've seen a need for you are really what we what we need to do, you know, I mean, if you've got multiple interests, we have to look at the one where it's going to benefit the most, you're the one where most people can benefit from because as Muslims, our productivity is not just linked to ourselves, but it's really to the human as a whole. So for me, I saw a need for Islamic products in the south health area, knowing that they will benefit the Muslim ummah. So this trumped all my other personal interests, because of the fact that it will benefit so much more people. So that's why I gravitated this way. And that's what I advise people to do, which is all the things you love, choose
the one that's going to benefit the most, and focus on there. So finding the in between between, like what you have an interest for and also what there's a need for as well. And that's how you found this area, finding a way to realign the two is basically what you go. Alright, so going more deeply into productivity, I want to put you on the spot and ask you about your own personal productivity. So I mean, you have multiple roles or responsibilities. And I understand that along with you being a teacher or rider life coach, I'm a father of four children who you homeschool. How do you do it? How do you make it all work? Well, having long term goals and motivation is most
important, you know, do you get those days where you think you'll be so much easier to just put the kids in school instead of having them at home all day, and you get those days where you feel like maybe I should cut out some of my products, or some of my projects and do less things. But what pushes me forward and those days is the long term goals, the motivation, that everything I do, plays a key role in benefiting the oma in some way or the other. And so I would not justify giving it up. I cannot justify to myself giving it up. So for example, my radio program takes place on a Tuesday night at 9pm.
On a night by 9pm, I am very tired. Yeah, but I will go there and I will do the best radio program because it reaches hundreds of 1000s of listeners across the country and online. And it's benefiting the oma and so that goal of benefiting the oma takes precedence over my own tiredness and my own, you know, personal desires, because that's really the key motivation is the same with homeschooling, you know, it's when I think long term, what do I want my kids to be when they grew up in terms of their morals, their character, their tribe, the personalities, I realized that this homeschooling is a sacrifice and investment that will pay off in the long run. And so that motivates me to keep going
even on the days where we may be too tired, or we may not be in a good mood, or whatever the case may be. So it's really important to have long term goals and source of motivation. That's the only thing that pushes you to achieve more than others, to really have a strong motivation. And I think for me, my primary motivation is benefiting. That's really what pushes me forward in anything that I do. Alright, so with long term goals, how many long term goals do you have, I mean, since you're doing a lot of things, it doesn't mean you have a lot of long term goals, or when they all actually relate to one or two long term goals, you know,
they all align in some way, I have like a point that I want to reach in my life, and from the branches out into three things, I need to get to get to that point at that branch out to six things I need to do to get to that point. And from there, you know, I'm actually working in a triangular manner, I'm doing 10 things now, which will need to find things in the future, which will lead to things after that, to finally reach to my, to my ultimate goal. So it may seem like I'm doing a lot of unrelated things, but behind the scenes is actually all working towards one primary goal. You know, if you have to really go down deep to the primary goal of every Muslim it should be to
decrease or learn and to agenda. And, you know, my my motto of life is to leave this world a better place, and I found it. And every project I pick up works towards that goal, you know, to improving the lives of someone or the other. And in terms of this world, I have my own words, the goals as well, of course, you know, you're not supposed to forget the dunya we have to go to India, but you know, to become financially independent, to be able to fund my own dow to be able to our completely for free to do that. I need sources of income and you know, all of these things work together. Some of the stuff I do are free our projects, even my radio program and sound completely free. So get
into your project benefit the oma many people don't know that they think I get paid to be on radio, but it's actually free. Other things like the self help ebooks and courses and my management job, they help me provide for my family and have enough money to fund. So it all related everything works together towards a primary goal. And so therefore, I don't often feel like I'm doing many things. I just feel like I'm working towards one goal on either
check to reach that goal. Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Because when you have that clarity that all these things are leading towards one goal. There's a you're able to work towards each one and give it its own time. Yeah, sure. Yeah. So I mean, it sounds like you're very motivated and ambitious and you
Is this something that you've always been like? Or was it something that came over time? Like you had a point in your life in which you're like, Okay, I got to get my act together.
To be honest, I think I've always been like this.
I cannot think back to a single time in my life where I would say I was lazy or unmotivated. In school, I will get good grades. I started studying Islam full time when I was 13. Yeah, I started doing when I was 16. I got married when I was 20. I wrote my first book when I was 23. I literally cannot remember a point in my life where I was not doing anything productive. It's it's just been a year from the time of Akita. It's partially because of good parenting Alhamdulillah, my mother, and an amazing job single mother raising us on our own, to raise us to be Dini conscious. And she herself, she runs a school, she serves the oma. And that was a motivation for me to follow in our
footsteps and do things that benefit the oma. So parenting is one thing that helped me to always be motivated from a young age. And the other thing is, the way my personality is wired, you know, last week, Saturday, I had two hours without any work to do, my to do list was finished. And I felt frustrated that I'm wasting two hours. That's the kind of personality I have. So I just have to fill up my times with things that's beneficial, because that's that you only have one shot at life, and you want to pile up as many good deeds as possible. So 100, I think I've just been building with a personality that's always been motivated to just go and do more and more and more how to do that. So
are you saying that you don't have any like lazy days, like down days, I do have lazy days, but that's scheduled as well, Sunday's my lazy day, you know.
And they have my vacations twice a year, to go to the mountain ranges or to an island or whatever, with a family, you know, go and have a vacation with the family once or twice a year, I do that. Every Sunday, I wake up late, and I just have fun, who they don't think about any work or do any work. But that schedule in To me, that's part of productivity, all right, that we actually making time to have downtime, so you stay productive, because I believe, if you don't schedule fun time and downtime, you end up really frustrated and burnt out. So that's all scheduled into each the way I live my life. And that way, it's a very balanced life. And if you actually spend a day in my life,
see, I have a lot of fun. It's not just work all day. Hmm. So if that's the case, then what would you say gets in the way of person wanting to lead a productive life? Well, I think it comes down to goals and motivations. You know, people don't really know what they want to do with their life, or why they want to do it. I found some people they make to do lists, but they don't follow through their to do lists. Because there's no real motivation to do anything on the list. It's not working towards a higher goal. It's not working towards anything long term. So really, it comes down to lack of motivation, I believe if someone has a motivation to have something that they really want, or
they really need. And they know that if I don't get this, I'm going to regret it for the rest of my life, they will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Yeah, but many people just don't have that, you know, they just coasting through life, they just doing whatever comes next, they're doing the bare minimum to get their salary, or to make it through the day. That's comes down to not having motivation or a goal. So I would say the primary factor is to have clear cut goals. If your goals are clear, and the things that you really, really need and want, you will push yourself beyond the norms of other people to get those goals because they are seated important to you. So that's really
the primary thing to meet goal setting and motivation. So in your case, when your workload becomes like stressful and becomes overwhelming, then how do you deal with that? You actually have an article about this on my website, Islamic self help calm, or the article is called management for bad days. I wrote it when I was having a bad day.
So I was having a really bad day, I wrote some advice to myself on how to handle that day. And that became one of my most popular articles time management for bad days. And there's primarily
three things that I would do when I'm having a bad day. The first is that I will prioritize, I will say, Okay, I've got 20 things on my to do list. What are the five things that have to get done today? Yeah, the five things that I can't reschedule. So I will choose those five things and only focus on those five things for that day. Like everything else, I will either delegate it to someone else, or reschedule it for another day. Right. So yeah, this is primarily how I will handle a bad day or a difficult day or overwhelming day, I will choose the five most important things that I have to do today and focus only on those things. I'll delegate some other stuff. So for example, in
homeschooling, I'll tell my wife that you know what, I'm got a lot of work to do today. So can you handle the homeschooling today to see the work that kids have to do so delegate that to her, or with some of my management work, I may delegate some work to my assistant, but
So that takes some stuff off my plate and brings down the stress levels. And anything else that's, for example, during one month's time or two months time, I will reschedule it for another day, when it's a quiet day, I know when a certain day of the week I'll have less work, I will reschedule those work that work for that day. So through delegation, rescheduling, and focusing on priorities, able to be productive, even on the most stressful of data.
So it sounds like you have a plan for bad days, like a bad day plan. Yeah, it's did something as I say, I've written a whole article about it. And it's something you have to have because you cannot go through life without these bad these are going to come your way. Yeah, that's true. We'll link that in our show notes. So the next question over here was about what advice would you give to a 20 year old self about being productive and making the most out of your life? What would you say? Honestly, I wouldn't change anything about my life. Alhamdulillah, you know, I just changed, I just turned 30
a few days ago on the first of September. Yeah, I was born on the first of September 1986. So I literally just turned 30, a few days ago, and I reflected on my 20s I just say Alhamdulillah, Allah has given me a productive youth. In my 20s, I got married when I was 20, I became a father, when I was 21, became a published author by 25, or manager by 24 became a founder of my own website by 28, I don't see anything that I would change, I'm very happy with the way my life played out. Even the bad times. I mean, I was fired from jobs, I was unemployed, I, I went through some serious challenges. But every challenge I went through, shaped me into who I am today, and I wouldn't change
it. It all was part and parcel of making who, who I am today. So if I had to give advice to my 20 year old self, I would say continue doing what you're doing.
But, you know, don't just think of my 20 year old self is just too much and wanting too much about things going wrong. And what would people say, you know, those kinds of things, which, as you grow older, I like to just say this is life, you know, just take each day as it comes, don't just don't stress about it. That's probably the only advice I would give Otherwise, I wouldn't change anything about how to do like, productive 20s. So that's interesting that you said you got married at 20 years old and became a father at 21. So I'm curious to know, getting married and becoming a father at such a young age, did it help you become more productive, or I believe it definitely made me more
productive, and everybody I know who became parents at a young age has had the same experience. Because when you are now a father, you now have a family to support. And when you have a family to support, you're gonna work harder than someone who's single, because you literally have to put food on the table at the end of the month. So you're not going to be lazy, you're not going to be wasting time you have responsibilities, and those responsibilities help you to mature and they also give you more motivation. You know, a person with with a family has more motivation to work and get a better job, or get a promotion than someone who's single. So I believe that getting married young gives you
the motivation that I have to succeed at life, I can't be lazy now, because I have a family to take care of. That really is one of my primary motivations, right? So today, taking care of and providing for my family, you know, it's something that pushes you to do your work every day, and to work harder than others because as your kids grow, you want to give them more things you
want to do all of this stuff, and you need more money for the pet. So, you know, it all becomes part of the motivation to be your best and to do the most that you can do. So you know humbly like it's really been a blessing to me to have all my kids and to be a father at a young age. I mean my eldest is going to be nine years old
I'm 30 you know we get to have a lot of fun together because I'm still young yeah
it's not like it has a father with no energy has an interesting take on it. All right. So So when your day then how does how does a typical day look like for you? A typical day for me?
It kind of me going through each task on my to do list one by one. You know, I wake up in the morning I firstly I make my to do list the night before? Yeah. So in the wake up in the morning, I already know exactly what I need to get done for the entire day. And he's just step by step you know, I don't stress it just 20 things on the to do list. I just start from number one. And do each thing as the day goes along. Things get ticked off. And by 4pm 5pm often the entire to do list is completed. I learned not to stress because I know if you have a list of tasks and you take them one at a time, it all gets done. Taking life one day at a time picking your goals one day at a time
picking your to do list one task at a time. This helps you to be less stressed out when working towards your long term goals. So you'll find me homeschooling my kids while working. That's because I'll give them their work we didn't cover before for grading it. You know you'll find me
you know maybe answering an email and after taking a phone call. I don't try to multitask anymore unless you
So a beneficial way because multitasking takes away your concentration from any specific task. So instead of multitasking, I do things one at a time. And this helps me to get through the day.
I also try to get done with my to do list by 5pm. So this gives me time to spend with my children in time to spend with my wife and time for myself. It's also important to make time for yourself. Another thing I make sure I do every day is I make time for a vida. Besides praying the five slot time I put on my to do list to recite Quran every day, this is important for everybody to do. No matter how busy you are, you must put on your to do lists recycle, you must make time for this every day. Yeah, because connection with a lot many people forget about this. And they say they're too busy, you cannot be too busy for Allah subhanho wa Taala. So you know, making time for that are my
to do list, I also have every day, read a book, you know, listen to a podcast, these are things that I wanted to do this so that my own personal development does not get ignored. Also make sure I have breaks every one or two hours, take a five minute break to watch a funny video, or to take a walk or to play a short video game, whatever it is something just to, to recharge the brain. So you know, you get your energy back. Yeah,
I'll do I do a lot of things, the way I break down my day and take things one step at a time, it doesn't really feel like a lot. It's, it's it just flows from one task to another. I believe when you balance things out in this way, you end up making time for everything. So this is more or less what my days are like, hmm, so one thing that stands out for me is that you have all your to do list and you have a timing in which you aim to finish by Yeah, it creates a sense of urgency, you know, because you don't think, Oh, I have enough time to just take my time with this. No, you don't, I've got to get to all of this by a certain time. Otherwise, I'm not going to have time to spend with my
kids or, you know, I'm not going to have time to to relax. So, you know, again, as I said, all this stuff must be scheduled in your time management is not just about getting things done. But it's also about enjoying what is holiday, it's also about taking care of yourself taking care of your family. So it's really important to have that time because I know some people are Workaholics. They work around the clock. And then the complaints come from the family members that you know you don't spend time with us, or they themselves get burnt out after a while. So it's very important that we actually
make time for family. And I found one way to do that is to give myself a cut off time for work every day, if works done by 5pm. And you know, it's not something that has to be done today, then we move on to tomorrow's to do this. As simple as that. The answer actually leads me to my next question, which is how do you relax? What things do you do to have fun? And how often do you do because I know you mentioned earlier about you take trips and everything like that, but on a daily basis. Do you schedule time for that to your everyday in the evenings are fun time except on certain days of the week. I mean, on Wednesday nights, I have some reverse teach Islam to and on Tuesday night to have
my radio program and sometimes they have at night but on the average night, I'm free. And that's our fun time. You know, time for some holiday fun. play video games, my kids or you know spend some time with my wife for you know what, something funny or watch a video. On my day off on a Sunday, we'll go to the park, we go to the aquarium, we'll go to the local shopping malls just to relax and have fun as a family. And one of the nice things of having four kids is you always have someone around you have fun. Because kids, very fun people to be with. So 100 a lot, you know, my household. There's a lot of fun going on. People may think that we work all day or be super serious people
always involved in work. But I honestly think I have more fun than most people. Yeah, yeah, it's just I schedule the time for the fun. So it doesn't actually affect my productivity in any way. And that's a good way to approach it so that you can get a good balance in your life. Yes, I'd be balanced, very important. If you lose that balance for the sake of money or something else. It's not worth it. Because what's the point of money if you're not enjoying what he's halaal? If you're not spending time with family, you know that that should really be a priority? Yeah, that's true. So we're actually getting near to the end of interview. So I have a few more questions that I want to
ask you. And the first question is, what's a book or a video, which you've seen recently that has helped you in your personal growth?
Cool, that's a tough one because I have a deadline for myself to read 40 books a year. So this year alone, I've read like 28 books already. And the one that stands out recently was actually an audio book I listened to called the 10 x rule.
And if you know that book, The 10 x rule by Grant Corden.
The book is basically saying that to be successful at anything, you have to do 10 times the amount of work in terms of what already works. If you find something works, you know, do it time
Tip, for example, $100 advert that's, that's, that's generating returns on income, return on investment, then change it to $1,000, your time tentative, if you've got someone who's doing their work properly, you know, give them more work to do, if you have certain things that you do, well do more of it. And what that taught me is I need to up my game, whatever I'm doing well, I need to do more of it, in order to get more done. And what's nice about the book is he teaches you how to do more without really stressing yourself out without, you know, feeling overburdened. And very often, the things we do, we don't realize we can do more of it. You know, we think that this is all we can
do. We think, for example, I can write one article a week. Yeah. And that's not necessarily the case, I could write three articles a week, or we think I could post once a day on Facebook, well, you could post 10 times a day on Facebook. So sometimes we don't realize how we can be doing more without increasing our actual workload. And this book is full of ideas on how to do that. And it's full of motivation on why you should be doing more. So I find it quite an interesting read, it was very different from the normal books I read.
He also was very blunt. You know, his language is a good cause at times. But it was an interesting read in terms of motivating you to get more done. And I think it's something which I, which I needed to help me up my game to the next level. So how do you actually find the time to read the D scheduled that as well? Yeah, that's one way to do this. In fact,
this podcast is over. I'm reading for the next half an hour, because that's next on my to do lists. All right. All right. So your to do list would say something like read for half an hour? Is that what it is? Exactly? Okay. Yeah, because I had another approach about having a certain number of pages to read. And then there's also timing by by timing as well. Yeah, I focus on timing, because depending on the type of book I'm reading, I may have to read faster or slower. So if I rather just choose a time than choosing a number of pages, because some books have higher, I have more print on the page, some have less print some uniqueness, read slower to digested others, you can speed read,
so I just choose a half an hour a day for reading, however, much gets done in half an hour.
All right. So my final question is, how would you define a productive Muslim?
a productive Muslim, as I mentioned earlier, you know, we should be working to helping the oma. So my view of a productive Muslim is someone who when you pass away, you have left an impact on any portion of this ummah. And you have left behind people who make you out for you who ask Allah to forgive you and whoever. This means that you made a difference to this Omar, we need a group of orphans, whether it's a group of widows, whether it's reverse, whether it's people who converted to Islam, through you, with these people at your local Masjid, or whether it's a million people, the fact is, you made a difference in somebody's life, your life was dedicated to uplifting any portion
of this ummah, if you are making a difference to the lives of anyone, you are being productive, but if you only focusing on yourself, and your own money and your own worldly success, then that's not productivity. productivity in terms of an oma is benefiting the oma is not a selfish oma, we are women who care for each other. So I would say to truly be a productive Muslim, we must leave an impact on the Oba and we must leave behind people who will make to offer us as Allah forgive us It will versus These are the people who will count on our scale of good deeds. And that becomes productivity in both worlds. That's true. That's true.
Okay, shake is more. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I've taken away many insights from this. Is there any final advice that you would leave for our listeners, just whatever is on your mind that you didn't get to mention throughout the interview? Yeah, well, my final advice to the listeners is to remember that you only have one shot at living in the studio. In this world, we don't know how long we're going to be up. So it is crucial that we utilize our time in this world, to build the era to go after life. Don't wait until you're older. Don't wait until something happens to change your life. You be there's something that happens you change your life today. Because the
end of the day, we're going to be responsible to Allah for how we spent our time, how we spent our wealth, how we spent our youth, all of these are things that we have to ask Allah for. And so as Muslims, you know, being a productive Muslim is not something that's a fancy title or something that some people do. It's actually something we all supposed to do. It's supposed to be part of who we are. Because this is a fundamental of our religion. We are accountable to Allah for how we spend our time and how we spend our resources. So let's be productive in how we utilize every aspect of our lives. That's my final message to listeners Jazakallah fate for having me Salaam Alaikum
warahmatullahi wabarakatuh say everyone, I hope you enjoyed today's episode and took away many insights for any
Other information, anything that we mentioned in this episode, you can be able to find out in our show notes which can be found out on our blog, productive muslim.com. Or if you want to go see those podcasts along with any other episodes, which we've released on the podcast, please do check us out on productive Muslim podcast.com. And they, you'll be able to find out how you can tune in to this podcast, online and also on your devices. So on your phone, say for example, you're commuting, you're driving, you can download these episodes on your phone, at home, and then play them offline. So you don't have to worry about using mobile data out and about, you can just use it on your Wi Fi
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